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Growing a digital social innovation ecosystem for Europe

The first systematic network analysis of the emerging digital social innovation ecosystem in Europe.

This report coordinated by Nesta and commissioned by the European Commission, DG CONNECT is the first systematic network analysis of the emerging digital social innovation (DSI) ecosystem in Europe. 

Key Findings

  • The report identifies more than 1,000 rising examples of digital social innovation organisations across Europe, and the hidden links among them.
  • Social innovation in Europe is currently done by a few large organisations alongside a large mass of smaller organisations, but the majority of social innovators in Europe are disconnected from the bigger networks
  • The largest and more interconnected community is focused around open hardware and open networks, and there is a large focus on awareness networks and new ways of making.
  • The open knowledge cluster is the second largest, with a focus on collaborative economy.
  • THe third largest network is grouped around Nesta and is focussed on funding, acceleration and open democracy. Other communities, such as those grouped around open data are developing connected communities.

A growing movement of innovators in civil society, tech and social entrepreneurs are now developing inspiring digital solutions for a variety of social issues, in areas such as health, democracy, consumption, money and education.

We have identified DSI organisations and projects as part of a larger social network and have mapped this network in a way that has not been possible before. 

Digital technologies and the internet have transformed many areas of business – from Google and Amazon to Airbnb and Kickstarter. Huge sums of public money have supported digital innovation in business, as well as in fields ranging from the military to espionage. But there has been much less systematic support for innovations that use digital technology to address social challenges.

Over the last 18 months Nesta, funded by the European Commission, has led a large research project into DSI. The project seeks to define and understand the potential of DSI, to map the digital social innovators, their projects and networks, and to develop recom­mendations for how policymakers, from the EU to city level, can make the most of DSI.

Author
Francesca Bria

Contributors
Dr. Mila Gascó, ESADE Business School; Dr. Harry Halpin, IRI; Peter Baeck, Nesta; Dr. Esteve Almirall, ESADE Business School; Frank Kresin, Waag Society

 

Authors

Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Head of Collaborative Economy Research

Peter focuses on the collaborative economy, crowdfunding, P2P lending and the role of digital technolgies in public and social innovation. Peter lead much of Nesta's research into cr...

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Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Senior Project Lead

Francesca Bria was a Senior Project Lead in the Innovation Lab. She was EU Coordinator of the D-CENT project on direct democracy and social digital currencies and principle investiga...

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